‘People Talking About This’ defined

By Brittany Darwell Comment

Facebook introduced “People Talking About This” in October, but the new metric is still unclear to many page owners. Part of the confusion comes from the name, which sounds like it calculates the mentions of a topic across the social network, when in reality, the metric only counts direct interactions with a page. Further misunderstanding results from the difference in how this number is reported versus how page Likes are reported. Page owners who know what type of activity increases People Talking About This can improve their Facebook marketing efforts by reaching fans and their friends.

What is ‘People Talking About This?’

People Talking About This is the number of unique users who have created a “story” about a page in a seven-day period. On Facebook, stories are items that display in News Feed. Users create stories when they:

  • like a page
  • post on the page wall
  • like a post
  • comment on a post
  • share a post
  • answer a question
  • RSVP to a page’s event
  • mention the page in a post
  • tag the page in a photo
  • check in at a place
  • share a check-in deal
  • like a check-in deal
  • write a recommendation
  • claim an offer

Whenever a person takes one of these actions, it counts toward People Talking About This. If a user posts a status update about going to a restaurant, that will not affect People Talking About This unless the user uses the @ function to tag the restaurant’s page or checks in to the restaurant from a mobile device. For now, plain text mentions of a topic do not influence People Talking About This, which is meant to indicate how well a page is engaging fans, not simply how popular something is.

Because the metric tracks unique users interacting with a page over a seven-day range, if a fan leaves more than one comment or both likes and shares a post within that time, it adds only one point to People Talking About This. However, the number changes daily so it is important to engage fans consistently to keep this number up.

Anyone visiting a page can see the total People Talking About This on the left side of the page under the number of Likes. Although Likes are counted and displayed in real time, People Talking About This data is typically two days behind. This means the number doesn’t tell admins how many people are talking about their page right now, but how many people directly interacted with the page in some way in the seven days prior to two days ago. It’s no wonder people are having trouble understanding the new metric.

To further complicate things, individual posts also have a People Talking About This count, which only page owners can view. This is the unique number of users who interacted with a post in a way that generated a story, for instance, liking, sharing or commenting on content. When users like specific comments on a post, it does not count toward this total since the action does not generate a News Feed story.

[Update 6/5/12 - Facebook now includes viral shares in pages’ People Talking About This, which means that when fans share a page’s post, any subsequent Likes, comments, or re-shares will be counted in a page’s PTAT. Before this date, actions that users’ friends took on a shared post were not added to PTAT.]

How does ‘People Talking About This’ affect pages?

People Talking About This is an important metric because it emphasizes interactions beyond an initial Facebook Like. Pages that create posts that fans enjoy will benefit. When people interact with pages in ways that generate stories, pages reach an audience beyond their existing fan base. Users benefit, too, from pages providing more relevant content. Pages that have been focused on gaining Likes without an engagement strategy to follow it will suffer from the disparity between the number of Likes and People Talking About This.